Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Out for Michigan and Darlington

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Aug. 25, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXLVI
What to Watch: Thursday
- Today is pull-in day for the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams at Michigan.  No on-track action is scheduled, but if anything breaks, we'll have it for you at Frontstretch.

Thursday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to Miss Michigan, Darlington

On Wednesday evening, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will continue to sit out while he recovers from a concussion at Michigan back in June.  Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 this weekend in Michigan, while Jeff Gordon will be back in the car at Darlington.  Read more

Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin Among Teams Warned After Bristol Violations

On Wednesday, NASCAR released their weekly penalty report.  There were no graded penalties at Bristol, but seven teams in the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series were warned for various violations.  Ty Dillon in the XFINITY Series and Kyle Busch in Sprint Cup received their fourth warning and lost pit stall selection.  Dillon already served the penalty in Bristol, but Busch loses his selection spot this weekend.  Read more

Elliott Sadler, OneMain Ink Multi-Year Deal with JR Motorsports

A month ago, we reported on how OneMain Financial was planning on leaving NASCAR at the end of the season.  Since then, the company has had a change of heart.  On Wednesday, OneMain Financial announced a multi-year contract extension to continue sponsorship of Elliott Sadler in the XFINITY Series.  Read more

Darrell Wallace, Jr., Leidos Agree to Multi-Race Sponsorship

On Wednesday, Roush Fenway Racing announced that Leidos, a global science and technology solutions company in the aviation, defense and communications industries will serve as the primary sponsor of Darrell Wallace, Jr.'s No. 6 Ford in the XFINITY Series for four upcoming races.  The first race for the sponsorship is Dover at the beginning of October.  Read more

Have news for the Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.

Editor's Note: Potts' Shots will return soon.
The Critic's Annex: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
by Phil Allaway

The Bristol race weekend was incredibly busy and frustrating weather-wise.  For me personally, it was already going to be fairly tough due to the Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions coming to Lebanon Valley, where I am the press officer.  Had everything gone off as scheduled, you more than likely would not be reading this on Thursday.

However, both the Cup race and the sprint car race were pushed back a day by rain.  Lebanon Valley did not postpone until after 5 p.m., meaning that I still had to drive out there while the Cup race was running as if it was actually going to happen.  I missed over 200 laps Sunday just by driving there and back.

On Monday, I drove back right after work to cover the action.  It was a rough-and-tumble affair with Sammy Swindell winning.  Steve Kinser's retirement announcement overshadowed everything, though.  For what it's worth, I did talk to Kinser after the race.  He stated that he was unhappy with his running.  He feels that he isn't as competitive as in past years.  He finished sixth, but basically stated that his car was miserable.  He feels like its time and wants to spend more time with his grandkids (remember, he's 62 and has 40 years of seniority).  All in all, he just seemed content.  This might really be it, dudes.

The race was ultimately a big workout for NBC's rain fill programming.  The start was delayed slightly, so there were a few driver interviews and plenty of pre-race analysis.  The red flag coverage was pretty decent on Saturday night.  We got some pretty good interviews...and some quirky moments.

First, you had Denny Hamlin introducing the world to Isaka Kanazawa, who apparently could not decide if Hamlin or Matt Kenseth is his favorite driver.  Always good for laughs.  However, I don't think NBCSN did their research on this guy.  For the sake of this argument, I hadn't heard of him prior to Saturday night, either.  It seems like they thought he was a fan that lucked into a Hot pass and was having his dreams come true.  Wrong.  Turns out that Mr. Kanazawa-san is a Senior Athlete Relationship Consultant as part of Toyota's Motorsport Marketing division.  While he was definitely having fun, he was technically there for work.

For example, you had Matt DiBenedetto trying to do a choreographed dance (along with his wife) to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" due to the fact that the dudes at Bristol Motor Speedway screwed up and didn't start "Shake It Off" at the time stamp that DiBenedetto indicated.  That was something else.

The second red flag Saturday saw NBCSN switch to bonus coverage of Friday night's Food City 300, then Scan All content from Watkins Glen before the race was called.

Sunday saw the broadcast go on-air with more rain falling, so more fill time.  Instead of actually conducting interviews first, they went straight to the Food City 300 broadcast and aired the whole race, then a Scan All special.  I'm not a particular fan of this move, but I think it was forced because a lot of the drivers weren't even inside the track at 1 p.m.

Once the Scan All special ended, everyone was at their cars and getting ready to have it.  Viewers saw six relatively quick interviews where the theme of the day seemed to be relief prior to the engines restarting at 4:30 p.m.

The race itself on Sunday saw a number of storylines dominate.  The resin/rosin/VHT substitute/whatever-the-deuce-it-was that Bristol Motor Speedway laid down was a sizable story.  Saturday night's 31 laps of green-flag racing was admittedly inconclusive as seemingly any line could be used for passing.  Looking back, I almost wish they could have run the race at night.  I liked what I saw early on.

On Sunday, it sort of came and went.  Early on, the top was fastest, then the rosin would activate with the heat and the bottom would come in.  With that change would come an increase in passing since some cars were better up top while others were better down low.

Viewers saw a somewhat decent amount of racing for position Sunday, but that action tended to be centered around the frontrunners, perhaps even more than on Friday night.  That was one thing I didn't particularly like, but we did get a lot of battles.  Also, NBCSN held off on commercial breaks on at least two occasions to show battles on-track.  That's pretty good. 

Speaking of the Kyle Busch situation, NBCSN had audio from Kyle Busch's radio on lap 318 where he thought that a rear shock issue.  There was some confusion in the booth, but Busch was steadfast in his conviction that something was broken.  The failure to me looked more like a track bar or something based on how he crashed, but I'm not expert on the mechanical aspects of racing.

The booth did take issue with Justin Allgaier's ill-advised turn to the right that put him right into Busch.  The notion was that he had already committed to the apron.  I'm perfectly fine with the stance.  Allgaier's only defense here would be that he was trying to avoid Regan Smith, who was in front of him and had turned dead left.

Given that it was after 7:30 p.m. when the race finally ended, post-race content was actually rather generous.  Viewers got six post-race interviews, a points check and analysis.  Not half bad under the circumstances.

Overall, this was a very trying broadcast due to the weather.  It's happening way too much these days.  The rain fill coverage was not as good as what we got in Pocono, but it was still enjoyable.  The on-track product was very good.  Everyone talks about having a single groove setup at Bristol.  You more or less had that last year, but it was right next to the wall.  That's even harder to pass on than the "Old Bristol" setup from prior to the summer of 2007.

NBCSN's coverage was decent, but there were a couple of mistakes.  I've already mentioned the Kanazawa mixup.  They also misidentified Reed Sorenson as Alex Kennedy, who drove the No. 55 at Watkins Glen.  Whoops.  The broadcast was pretty good from the technical side of things, although I want to say that there was one point in which the wrong number was used for Aric Almirola in the current order bar (they used one that would represent Brian Scott).  Despite all the rain, there were no issues with transmission.

I generally enjoyed watching the race.  Even with the grippy stuff on-track, there really wasn't that much usage of the bump and run, but the race was more enjoyable to watch in general.  That's what is going to bring Bristol back way more than races with 19 cautions.  Of course, with all the rain, we had about as many caution laps as a 19 caution race normally would have (106).

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at
Frontstretch Line of the Week
From Beyond the Cockpit: Josh Wise Optimistic Despite First-Year Struggles with The Motorsports Group

"We have five people here [at Pocono] this weekend and two guys at the shop. There's a fine line of getting good people and getting people who can do a good job and not just hiring people to fill space. That's the biggest challenge as a new team. The largest teams do a really good job at hiring great employees and retaining them. We're in a position where we take chances on some younger guys, and we try to train guys, things like that.Even as a smaller team with fewer resources, all of the other boxes we have to check to get where we want to be, people are the most critical aspect of it.." - Josh Wise on the employment situation at The Motorsports Group, as of Pocono.


by Dustin Albino and Sean Fesko

by Huston Ladner

by Joseph Wolkin

by Bryan Gable

by Beth Lunkenheimer

by Toni Montgomery

Q: In 2003, Jimmy Spencer was suspended following a post-race altercation with Kurt Busch (specifically, Spencer punched Kurt Busch square in the face through his window, similar to what Michael Waltrip did on pit road to Lake Speed in 1995).  What happened to elicit that kind of angry reaction from Spencer?

Check back Friday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Wednesday's Answer:

Q:  Later in the 1998 Grand Prix of Belgium, Michael Schumacher was dominating after one of his primary competitors (Mika Hakkinen) was eliminated on the second start.  Lap 26 ended up being his downfall, though.  What happened?

A: Schumacher had a big lead, but approached the slower David Coulthard in the second McLaren to lap him.  Rather than pull off line, Coulthard stayed on line and in the blinding spray, Schumacher ran into the back of the McLaren.  Schumacher lost his front wing and right front tire while Coulthard lost his rear wing.  The crash can be seen here.

Both drivers were able to drive their stricken cars back to the pits.  Schumacher was very angry at Coulthard and in a rare instance of rage, attempted to storm the McLaren garage in order to confront Coulthard. He was thwarted by members of the Ferrari and McLaren teams.  Schumacher was out on the spot, while the McLaren team was able to replace Coulthard's rear wing and got him back out on track to finish seventh, five laps down.  Today, that would score points, but points only went back to sixth-place at the time.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll preview the Sprint Cup Series' Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, while also providing news from Thursday.

We'll have Four Burning Questions for you to think about heading into this weekend's action in Michigan.
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